The U.S. Federal Reserve left rates unchanged last week and markets celebrated. Across the globe, national stock market indices finished the week higher. In the United States, the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index and NASDAQ gained more than 1 percent.
Not everyone was thrilled with the decision, however. Three Federal Reserve presidents cast dissenting votes. All believed interest rates should move higher. That’s the most dissents since December 2014 when even the dissenters were divided about what should happen.
Proceeding with caution is the right approach, according to Barron’s:
If it’s not one thing, it may be another.
Economic data released last week will factor into this week’s Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) decision on whether to push interest rates higher in the United States. Some of the August data supports the idea economic growth was soft. For example, August retail sales fell more than expected, down 0.3 percent from July. Other data was as expected: U.S. producer prices were flat, which was in line with expectations.
Blame it on the central banks!
After 44 consecutive sleepy, summer days when Barron’s reported the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index opened and closed without a 1 percent move in either direction, the index tumbled last week – and so did indices in other markets around the world. What roused investors from complacency? Some experts pointed their fingers at central banks:
“We can never know about the days to come, but we think about them anyway…”
Economists and market analysts have been thinking a lot about the Federal Reserve and the actions it may take before the end of 2016. Friday’s employment numbers helped fan the speculative fire. The U.S. Labor Department reported the unemployment rate remained at 4.9 percent with 151,000 jobs added during August.